A good understanding of the French language is more than an asset: it’s a requirement for successfully integrating and finding fulfilling work in Greater Montréal.
To become a permanent resident of Québec through the Programme de l’expérience québécoise (PEQ – Québec Experience Program)* offered by the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI) of Québec, you must demonstrate an advanced intermediate level knowledge of spoken French.
Proof of this ability will allow you to obtain a Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ – Québec Selection Certificate), a prerequisite for permanent residency in Canada. It is also possible to obtain a CSQ through the Skilled temporary foreign worker program (PRTQ) offered by the MIFI, for which French is an important factor in the selection process. However, the timeframe to obtain a CSQ is longer through the PRTQ than through the PEQ.
To become a member of a professional order, you must demonstrate your command of Québec’s official language. The Service de l’évaluation du français des ordres professionnels from the Office québécois de la langue française is mandated to evaluate the French knowledge of candidates for professional orders that do not meet the requirements of Article 35 of the Charter of the French Language.
The sooner you start to learn or improve your knowledge of French, the better your chances of success are! Here are some resources to help you.
The MIFI’s Free French Courses (in-class)
Free French courses for immigrants living in Québec are available with the MIFI. Full-time and part-time courses in-class are offered for beginner and intermediate.
International students, as well as their spouse, are now eligible for these courses as well as the accompanying financial assistance.
Online French Courses with the MIFI
The MIFI offers an online francization service (FEL) that is free for international students. This service allows you to learn French at your own pace through different learning formats, whether or not you already live in Québec.
- International students in Québec with a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (Québec Acceptance Certificate) are eligible for the intermediate and advances courses with tutor.
- International students who are still in their country of origin and who hold a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (Québec acceptance certificate) are eligible for the intermediate level French self-training course (without tutor).
The MIFI also offers an on-line exercises database for French as a second language for students at the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.
Beginner level students can also turn to other relevant resources: educational institutions, private schools, the many online resources, etc.
Public educational institutions (school boards, CEGEPs and universities) offer a diverse range of language courses. Their shared goal is to develop the use of French in various contexts (social, academic and professional) to promote the pursuit of post-secondary studies as well as access to the job market.
School boards offer a range of francization and literacy services to adults.
In addition, CEGEPs have developed sessions that combine French classes, employability and intensive francization services, again with various options. They have also developed tools, exercises, upgrade strategies and materials to help students prep for exams. And some CEGEPs offer francization courses tailor-made for specific sectors including administration, nursing and healthcare, law, business and engineering.
Montréal universities also offer a diversified range of regular and intensive courses to help international students improve their French, available at different times throughout the year. For example, the Université du Québec à Montréal, Université de Montréal and McGill University offer French as a Second Language courses, and Concordia University offers the Réussir en français program.
Language schools and other organizations
Private schools offer language courses that are specially designed for newcomers, with flexible formats including different levels (from initiation to improvement), schedule options and courses related to specific job sectors.
Classes in these schools—including the YMCA, LPS École and Institut Linguistique—are personalized and designed to be compatible with students’ schedules. You can also find ads from other private schools offering their services in the Yellow Pages under ‘Schools.’
Languages Canada and Fondation pour la langue française also offer some interesting options.
Bringing language schools together
An aggregate of language schools, Languages Canada is an organization dedicated to the learning and promotion of Canada’s two official languages, French and English. Recognized by the Canadian government, the organization provides a search tool to help people locate different language schools, listing the schools that meet the highest standards of teaching quality and content. Use their online search tool to find a program that fits your goals.
Fondation pour la langue française
A fun and social approach
Greater Montréal is also home to community and non-profit organizations that provide French classes to immigrants using a more original approach, where learning is designed to be fun—and free!
One of them is Fondation pour la langue française (FLF), a charitable organization founded by academician Dany Laferrière. The FLF gives newcomers the opportunity to learn French and the local way of life, all in fun and social settings—from cooking classes and cultural visits to choir singing.
Summer: Intensive Courses and Immersion Programs
You can improve your French more quickly by taking intensive courses or registering for summer immersion programs. Several language schools offer summer programs, a few of which are outside of Greater Montréal. Leaving the metropolitan area allows you to have a complete French immersion experience and discover what Québec has to offer. You can even combine an internship with a language study trip!
There are many free or paid online resources for learning or improving your French, complementary to those offered by educational institutions, including: self-directed learning, downloadable guides and reference materials, and video tutorials, as well as personalized conversations, podcasts and mobile apps.
Two great online resources to consider are Meetup and Mundo, which connect people looking to learn French with native francophones during meetups and group activities.
Mobile apps like Duolingo, Memrise and Babbel are also excellent tools to help you learn French easily and conveniently.
And finally, Montréal’s Grande Bibliothèque has an online bank of resources to help learners improve their spoken and written comprehension, work on their pronunciation, expand their vocabulary and practice for French tests. As a bonus, subscribers can access the language lab to really immerse themselves in French!
Whichever institution you choose, remember to make sure the French diplomas and tests they offer are recognized by the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI). You can consult their lists using the links below:
- Programme de l’expérience québécoise (Québec experience program) – Québec graduates
- Programme de l’expérience québécoise (Québec experience program) – Skilled temporary foreign worker
- Regular skilled worker program
Thanks to this abundance of resources, you have everything you need to start practicing French right away!
* Important: The Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration is temporarily suspending the intake of permanent immigration applications under the Québec Graduates stream of the Programme de l’expérience québécoise (PEQ – Québec experience program). For more information, see the notice.
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